Hammond ballet company seeks local dancers

Though the heat and humidity of our typical Louisiana summers has yet to relent, winter and Christmas are only a few months away. 

The Hammond Ballet company is currently preparing for auditions for the 18th annual production of “The Nutcracker,” which will be held Dec. 12 and 13 at the Columbia Theatre.

Auditions will occur Saturday, Sept. 13. Any dancers from Southeastern and neighboring dance schools are encouraged to audition. An estimated 80 dancers will be cast in the production.

“Dancers should audition if they love to dance and would like the opportunity to perform in a full length classical ballet,” said Linda Ross, treasurer of Hammond Ballet. “They will perform with professional dancers in the lead roles of Sugar Plum Fairy and the Nutcracker.  Many local dancers have never performed in a theater such as the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts.  This is a professional performance and not a dance recital.  It is a different experience and more disciplined.”

The performance will provide dancers with an opportunity to participate in a professional staging of the Christmas classic, as well as take part in a local tradition.

“‘The Nutcracker’ has become a holiday tradition in our community. We have had entire families in the cast with the parents in the party scene and their children cast with them or in other roles,” said Ross. “Dancers get to know other dancers from other areas and other dance schools. We are proud to display the talents of local dancers in a fine production of the Nutcracker.”

“The Nutcracker” will be directed by Janet Neyrey, artistic director. Neyrey formerly taught dance at Southeastern and has kept in relation with the dance department.

Hammond Ballet has looked to Southeastern dance students in the past for important parts, solos and whenever in need of an advanced dancer.

To audition, one must pay a $15 audition fee using cash only. Dancers ages 4-7 will audition at 11 a.m., ages 8-11 at 12 p.m. and ages 12 and older at 2 p.m. 

Auditions will include learning choreography and then performing it in small groups. Judges will evaluate ability, technique and stage presence. Some roles require acting in addition to dancing, such as Clara, the heroine. Some are exclusively acting parts, such as the boys in the party scene.

Ross encourages dancers to prepare by practicing at home and watching “The Nutcracker” movie to understand the storyline.

“Dancers need to put on those ballet shoes or pointe shoes, strengthen their feet and smile.” said Ross.

Upon receiving roles, rehearsals will be once a week, and there will be nightly rehearsals the week leading up to the show. 

Rehearsals will take place at A Touch of Class Performing Arts Dance Studio located at 135 S. 6th Street, Ponchatoula. To contact Hammond Ballet, email them at [email protected]